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Mol Cancer Res. 2010 Apr;8(4):569-77. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-09-0511. Epub 2010 Mar 30.

Prostaglandin E2 promotes lung cancer cell migration via EP4-betaArrestin1-c-Src signalsome.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia, USA.


Many human cancers express elevated levels of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), an enzyme responsible for the biosynthesis of prostaglandins. Available clinical data establish the protective effect of COX-2 inhibition on human cancer progression. However, despite these encouraging outcomes, the appearance of unwanted side effects remains a major hurdle for the general application of COX-2 inhibitors as effective cancer drugs. Hence, a better understanding of the molecular signals downstream of COX-2 is needed for the elucidation of drug targets that may improve cancer therapy. Here, we show that the COX-2 product prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) acts on cognate receptor EP4 to promote the migration of A549 lung cancer cells. Treatment with PGE(2) enhances tyrosine kinase c-Src activation, and blockade of c-Src activity represses the PGE(2)-mediated lung cancer cell migration. PGE(2) affects target cells by activating four receptors named EP1 to EP4. Use of EP subtype-selective ligand agonists suggested that EP4 mediates prostaglandin-induced A549 lung cancer cell migration, and this conclusion was confirmed using a short hairpin RNA approach to specifically knock down EP4 expression. Proximal EP4 effectors include heterotrimeric Gs and betaArrestin proteins. Knockdown of betaArrestin1 expression with shRNA significantly impaired the PGE(2)-induced c-Src activation and cell migration. Together, these results support the idea that increased expression of the COX-2 product PGE(2) in the lung tumor microenvironment may initiate a mitogenic signaling cascade composed of EP4, betaArrestin1, and c-Src which mediates cancer cell migration. Selective targeting of EP4 with a ligand antagonist may provide an efficient approach to better manage patients with advanced lung cancer.

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